Are you in the process of updating your company website? If you want your website to help grow your business, one of the best places to get information is from your employees.
The best way to have a website that converts is for it to explain who you are and what you offer your customers.
You do this through your website architecture (how your website is organized) and the words on your website (also called “copy” or “content”). Without this clarity, your customers will leave your website confused and you will lose business.
In order to make the architecture and words as clear as possible, we always recommend employee interviews for our clients. No matter the size and scope of the project, we have found this step of the process to be invaluable. Some previous projects have included:
- A national healthcare company was trying to identify who their target patient was so they could fix their enterprise-wide digital marketing platform.
- A non-profit was struggling to articulate their value proposition to their target customers.
- A managed service organization (MSO) needed a new digital strategy and website that spoke to seven diverse customers.
For every one of these very different projects, we started with employee interviews. In each interview we talk about:
- How they explain their job when they get the infamous, “So, what do you do?” question at every t-ball game, cocktail party, or new neighbor introduction. We answer this question so often, we’ve usually formulated an easy-to-understand response. It’s a great place to start when writing customer-first language.
- How they explain the company in these same situations.
- Their role or department’s role in supporting the customer or patient.
- Who the competition is.
- Why they think their company is better than a competitor.
- What their goals, the department’s goals, and the companies goals are.
- If they could snap their fingers, what tool, product, or anything else would make their job easier?
- And, additional questions that are relevant to the project we’re working on.
If you are working on a new website, here are some employees to interview.
Leadership in non-marketing or non-IT roles
As a digital marketing agency, we typically work with executive, marketing, communications, or technology leadership. No matter what the project is, it’s important to get the “other” side’s perspective to better understand the customer’s problem. Their world in your company often looks very different and they serve the customer in a very different way.
For healthcare, it’s getting a chance to talk to clinical leadership. They have different concerns than marketing and we can often bridge the gap to ensure they feel heard and that their needs are met as the project is scoped. It has been engineering, product, research and development, manufacturing, and countless other roles. Because the company website also represents these departments, it’s important for marketing to bring them to the table.
In B2B, it’s talking to manufacturing, engineering, or product. Their concerns are often different as their roles and responsibilities are to create, maintain, and develop the products or services your company is selling. Having their voice in the earliest stages of your website allows you to speak for the company as a whole, not just for the marketing department.
Why do we recommend this? We want to hear about how they talk about the customer, how the digital presence should be represented, and how they plan to use the website when it’s live.
Customer service agents
These are the people on the front line of your business. It may be your receptionist, administrative assistant, billing specialist, or customer service specialist. They hear how your customers talk about your product or service and can easily name the pitfalls of your company.
We have found peers or third-party consultant can often make these interviews more comfortable for these employees, as it’s never easy to have someone in a senior role asking about potential failures. But, it’s worth the effort. If your website is the digital storefront of your company, you want to ensure it’s meeting the needs of your customers. And the only way to know the needs of your customers is to talk to the people that ensure their needs are met.
Why do we recommend this? We want to hear directly from the person who picks up the phone when someone calls. They have such a wealth of information about what customers have the most problems with, what they struggle to understand, what makes them happy, and what makes them mad. Chances are your customer service agent holds the key to a successful digital strategy.
These are the employees who serve your customers day in and day out. They may not be the person who answers the phone, but they are the ones who are doing the work that makes your company money.
In healthcare, this is the techs, nurses, and doctors.
In business, it can be the welder, machinist, paralegal, store manager, roughneck, engineer, and countless other jobs.
Similar to customer service agents, we see success with staff interviews when a third-party is used. One memorable moment was an office manager who was able to openly share how the new clinic wait time estimator was so inaccurate it caused her staff to just guess wait times for patients. We gathered this feedback as part of their digital strategy for a new web-based wait times tool. The company got better because of honest feedback and the staff member was able to maintain her anonymity.
Why do we recommend this? In speaking with the staff within your company you’re able to get an honest picture of who you are, the problems you solve for your customers, and how your company helps them. They are a wealth of information.
For B2B businesses, sales teams are a wealth of information. They have internalized your company, what you sell, the problem potential customers have, and how your company helps solve these problems. You want to get this out of their head and into your digital strategy.
We have heard more often than not that a sales team doesn’t want to refer a potential client to their company’s website. They know it doesn’t match the words and pictures they use to sign deals, which is a tell-tale sign that your website is likely not converting customers.
Why do we recommend this? If a salesperson has figured out how to tell your company’s story and get someone to buy your product or service, there is a good chance the messaging works. But, often their pitch doesn’t match your website. By bringing your sales team into the website design and development process, you’re ensuring your website matches their sales pitch.
Next time you are tackling a new digital project, make sure you take the time to talk to your employees. You will get invaluable information about how your website, app, or product can better serve your customers.